Rioteers CC v Hambledon CC, 7th May 2017

A new season and a team packed full of Brazierless cricketing talent set sail with determination of mind and hope in their hearts. Could the new Captain get off to a good start? It didn’t look too promising when he promptly lost the toss and we were in the field. How wrong could we be …

First ball, a diving catch from Culmer and a wicket for Matt Lowden. The youthful Hambledon team were 1 for 0. What a start and against a team which recently took on England … well in 1790. What then followed can only be described as most un-Riotorious, as a series of catches were held, each more spectacular than the last. With three Hilliar’s in the team they were inevitably to the fore. Archie clean bowling batman No 2, James taking a regulation slip catch before a magnificent boundary catch which if I hadn’t seen with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it to be true and Captain M taking a screaming C&B to remove “their Aussie”. The stunned look on the shackle draggers face a joy to behold.

All of the bowlers kept manfully to their task and each chipped in with wickets. Matt and Martin taking 3 fors, Rioting debutant No1, John “Woody” Wood bowling a tight line (1 for 22), Jim Shea bowling the sort of spin that even he doesn’t know which way it’s turning (1 for 30) and Rioting Debutant No 2 and cricketing debutant No 1, Robert Rinaldo (yes Ladies and Gentlemen, we have signed Rinaldo) bowling two tight overs towards the back end of the innings.

This onslaught had Hambledon reeling at 100 – 9, even allowing for the inevitable sportsmanship of Shea chucking one of their best bats 3 leg-side full tosses in a row which were dispatched for 18 ! Hambledon threw everything at us, including a swarm of bees and interrupting the Captain’s hat trick ball with a drinks break. However, with the scent of victory in our nostrils, the team (and it was truly a team effort) pushed for that final wicket. A mixture of luck and good batting lead to a significant last stand before it finally fell with the oppo’ at 190 all out.

Whilst the game is about wickets, it would be remiss of me not to remark on the fielding of the whole team, which truly matched the catching. Again, magnificent has to be the word. A hitherto unknown athleticism seemed to infect the side, with diving stop’s and strong arms propelling the ball with laser accuracy over the top of the stumps so that wicketkeeper Hawthorne hardly had to move all day. The highlight being an actual run out. Matt Culmer prowling the boundary like a tiger stalking its prey, making a diving stop and arrowing his throw to the bowlers end, where Woody, who had time for a proverbial cup of tea, gentle removed the bails to confirm the demise of the batsman who had foolishly attempted a second run.

Tea was taken and it matched the fielding performance – magnificent. Cold meats, cheeses, pork pies, etc. etc. etc. right down to the doughnuts, all enthusiastically consumed by some more than others, isn’t that right James ?

The question on everyone’s lips over the millionaire shortbread was could this level of performance be transferred successfully to the batting. With a spring in their step the two openers carefully selected by the Captain, Bickers and Shea, marched purposefully towards the crease and took guard. Unfortunately, Shea was soon marching purposefully back again followed in reasonably quick order by Stafford and Hawthorne. 30 – 3 didn’t look promising but a decent stand by James H and Bickers took the total up to nearer 100 before Bickers fell for 37. James went on to complete an expansive but composed 50, ultimately falling for 56. Others to be mentioned in dispatches were the Captain (29) and Matt Culmer on 23 not out at the end.

Rinaldo came in for the final two overs (sadly he didn’t bat at 7). Concern was expressed after our now resident Canadian shouted strike 1 after his first ever ball, but he survived to complete his own unique hat trick – two overs bowled and 1 not out in his first ever game. Well done Sir.

A hard fought and very sporting draw with Rioteers finishing on 166 for 9, but ultimately, as always, cricket was the winner !

Finally, thanks to a very warm welcome from Mark and all at Hambledon CC and congratulations to whoever secured this fixture for the Rioteers. One I hope we play for many a year.

Bickers